Performance-Based Pay: Perceptions of Elementary Teachers of the Pandora School District
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In the last decade, there has been a resurgence in the support of using teacher pay to influence the outcome of student achievement on state tests. Current research about the effectiveness of these performance-based pay plans is varied and little research exists that qualitatively describes the experience that teachers have when engaging in these type of programs. Performance-based pay systems are a form of compensation reform, and like any other institutional reform initiative, can succeed or fail for many reasons. Understanding these reasons is key to understanding the perceptions of teachers regarding change, and planning for effective change when it occurs. The purpose of this heuristic case study was to understand the perceptions teachers have about performance-based pay in its natural setting. The research questions were as follows: What are the perceptions that teachers have about performance-based pay systems? How do teachers perceive accountability in reference to performance-based pay systems? How do teachers perceive equity in reference to performance-based pay systems? This single instrumental case study used phenomenology and heuristics as a lens to investigate the perceptions of 54 teachers in regards to performance-based pay systems and illuminate common threads of understanding such that these understandings will better facilitate the transition between compensation systems should the need arise. Results of this study indicated that although teachers believe that student achievement results play a part in determining teacher effectiveness, teachers also have a great mistrust of performance based pay systems. Teachers perceptions included a belief that these pay systems based on standardized test data are inherently flawed due to their inability to account for all student variables, and that these systems will create an environment where competition will result in increased teacher isolation and gameplaying or cheating on standardized tests. The examination of the data uncovered a cycle of reaction based upon the themes of understanding developed across sources. This cycle illustrates the phenomenon of progressing through a process of knowing, experiencing, and protecting oneself from a failing performance-based pay or merit program. This cycle incorporates issues unique to teachers and other public servants and is defined using Public Service Motivation Theory.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Review of literature -- Methodology -- Teachers voices -- Conclusion --Appendix A. Large scale survey -- Appendix B. In-depth interview